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Juli grew up a shy, middle child and is a woman of few words whose jewelry speaks volumes about herself, her feelings and her perspective on the world.  A modern alchemist of design, she melds industrial imagery and organic aesthetics together to create new and unique designs.  Juli's love for asymmetrical design was immediately made apparent in her very first bead craft:  a pair of mismatched earrings created when she was sixteen.  She developed her eclectic style by reading about and experimenting with every style and technique she could get her hands on, from stitched bead jewelry to riveted metals and from wire wrapping to precious metal clays.  No matter what Juli creates, her sense of humor & fun, love of the craft and sense of style come through.  Juli would probably blog more often if her rather large tabby cat, Rocky, didn't insinuate himself between her hands and the keyboard.  However, she does regularly update her facebook fan page for Juli's Jewels.  Juli is always paying-it-forward, not only on a personal level, but through her company with "just because" giveaways.  Juli's Jewels ArtFire artisan shop is jam packed with earrings, pendants, necklaces, anklets and more that are ready to ship and she loves to make custom orders for people too!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fun with metal clay

I love silver metal clay. There, I said it. I really do. BUT, and yes, its a big but...silver metal clay is expensive! A 10 gram packet of Art Clay Silver costs a little over $15 at metalclaysupply.com, which is were I have found it for the least amount of money. Yes, that works out to be about $1.50 per gram. So...A couple months ago, the great and powerful "They" (in this instance They being Metal Adventure) came out with a new product, BronzClay (clay that fires into bronze). Well, way less expensive at 17.09 for a 100 gram packet (less than $.20 per gram), but you need "Stuff" and bronze, not really my medium. The happy folks at Metal Adventures, no slackers there, were brewing up a new batch of fun, one that I couldn't pass up trying at least once, to see how I like it. Yup, that's right, my second favorite metal to work with...COPPER! The following is my first adventure with CopprClay. I made a couple of flat projects that can be used as pendants, if they turn out.

Supply list for my CopprClay adventure
Coppr Clay (100 gram packet) - I only pinched off about a fifth of the lump, as this was my first try
A plastic roller
Mat board (like from a picture frame)
Olive oil
My non-stick sheet (I think its Teflon, but I've had it so long, I forgot)
Assorted cookie cutters
Rubber stamps
Clay drill
Emory board
My food dehydrator
My kiln (we call her Lilly)
A stainless steel firing container
Coconut Carbon
A wire brush

Ready? Here we go…

I rubbed a little olive oil on my hands and the roller, cutters and rubber stamp (just a little, like, a couple of drops).

I unwrapped the clay and pinch off a bit and rolled it around in my palms until it formed soft little ball. I put the ball on my work surface and put the mat board next to the ball of clay and used the roller to start rolling out the clay. Relieved the CopprClay is stickier than SIlver metal clay and got out the olive oil again. Continued rolling and turning the clay until it was an even thickness with the mat board. Used the rubber stamp to texture the clay and then used a large butterfly cutter to cut out the bulk of the pendant. I rolled up the scraps and repeated the process for 2 more smaller butterflys, a star with a small star cut out to hang as a charm, and a flat rectangle frame to put something into later.

I out all the pieces into the dehydrator and then cleaned up some of my work area and got ready for sanding. This is really important as something that is not too big a deal in the greenware (ceramic) stage will be sharp or slicy after firing. Smoothed all the edges and felt around for and bumpy bits (these equal sharp metal spikes after firing). Drilled holes for jump rings etc. then checked for dryness. The pieces must be bone dry before firing or they could crack.

When I decided the pieces were dry enough, I put an inch of the coconut carbon in the firing vessel, laid down the clay pieces (at least a 1/2 inch away from each other) and the filled the vessel to the top with the coconut carbon.

Now for the fun part, firing! I had to figure out how to program Lilly as I have only used her for firing silver metal clay and she is preprogrammed for that. Once I got her figured out though...I put the firing vessel into the kiln (making sure not to touch the sides ot the magic thing in the back that takes care of the heat), closed the door and hit start. Now I am waiting...The hold time is 2 hours, then I have to wait for the kiln to cool before I can see what I've got.
I'll let you know as soon as I can but for now, lets have some dinner, or something.

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